Twins bullpen could use some relief

Twins bullpen could use some relief

OAKLAND -- Overtaxed might be the only way to describe the Twins bullpen right now.

The Twins relief corps has combined to throw a total of 26 innings over the first six games of the club's current 10-game road trip, including 21 innings over just the past four games.

In Wednesday's 16-1 blowout loss, the bullpen was called upon to pitch eight innings and it has started to take a toll.

"We can't have our bullpen eat up five or six innings every night," catcher Mike Redmond said. "You especially can't sustain that for a week straight. No team can sustain that. That's what we've always talked about how important starting pitching is for us.

"When we play well our starting pitching gets us to the sixth, seventh and makes the game a lot shorter. When we are not able to do that, then this is what happens. You get guys extended out and trying to throw more innings than they are supposed to be throwing."

After Wednesday's contest, the Twins made a roster move to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. They recalled right-hander Jesse Crain from Triple-A Rochester and sent Kevin Mulvey back to Rochester.

Crain is schedule to join the Twins in Anaheim for Thursday's series opener against the Angels.

"We have to have another pitcher," Gardenhire said.

The Twins used a total of three relievers in Wednesday's contest, including Mulvey who made two appearances during his short callup. In addition to Mulvey, the other two pitchers likely won't be available on Thursday. R.A. Dickey threw 86 pitches over 4 1/3 innings and Brian Duensing threw 26 pitches in 1 2/3 innings.

Due to the amount of work all of the relievers have been getting as of late, the club might get a chance to see quickly what Crain can do. The right-hander, who posted an 8.15 ERA in 17 2/3 innings for the Twins before being optioned on June 19, has been working to get back his form at Rochester. In 12 games with the Red Wings, Crain was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA.

"We'll see if Jesse can help us," Gardenhire said.

Despite having added an extra arm to their bullpen out of the All-Star break to give them a total of seven relievers, the Twins know the only way to keep from tiring out their bullpen is to get their starting pitching back on track.

Minnesota will look for Scott Baker to do just that on Thursday in the series opener against the Angels.

Pitching matchup
MIN: RHP Scott Baker (8-7, 5.10 ERA)
Baker delivered a gem of an outing to open the second half. The right-hander held the Rangers to just one run on six hits over eight innings. He kept an aggressive-swinging Texas ballclub off balance by throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes and moving the ball in and out of the strike zone. The Twins hope to see more of that from Baker throughout the second half. He'll next face the Angels, a team he's gone 0-4 against with a 5.88 ERA in six career starts.

LAA: RHP Jered Weaver (10-3, 3.48 ERA)
Weaver lasted only 3 2/3 innings Saturday against the Oakland A's, his shortest outing of the season. He gave up eight hits and five earned runs. But he had a good excuse for the poor performance. After the first inning, Weaver became "nauseous and woozy" because of what manager Mike Scioscia called a "viral" problem. Weaver is 10-3 overall with a 3.48 ERA, but he has not been as sharp lately as he was earlier in the season. Although in his past six starts he is 3-1, he has a 7.29 ERA over that stretch.

Gardenhire said that Wednesday's starter Glen Perkins likely won't make his next start due to his sore left shoulder. The pitcher hopes that with some exercises and treatment, he still might be able to pitch in that turn of the rotation. But Perkins said more will be known after he has his shoulder examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Thursday. ... The 16 runs scored by the A's on Wednesday were the most in Oakland history vs. the Twins. The 15-run margin was also the A's largest ever against Minnesota. ... The Twins dropped to 14-20 in day games this year.

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Up next
• Friday: Twins (Francisco Liriano, 4-9, 5.33) at Angels (John Lackey, 5-4, 4.39), 9:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Twins (Nick Blackburn, 8-4, 3.44) at Angels (TBD), 3:10 p.m. CT
• Sunday: Twins (TBD) at Angels (Ervin Santana, 3-5, 6.79), 2:35 p.m. CT

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.